• Premier League

Ferguson: Cantona was second choice - after Beardsley

ESPN staff
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Eric Cantona became a talismanic figure at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson © PA Photos
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Sir Alex Ferguson almost missed out on signing Eric Cantona in 1992 - because he was after Peter Beardsley.

Speaking at the London leg of his book tour, the former Manchester United manager added another detail to the infamous trail of events that led to the Frenchman's arrival at Old Trafford from Leeds Utd.

Desperate to find a replacement for injured striker Dion Dublin, Ferguson rekindled his interest in Beardsley, then at Everton, having attempted to sign him from Newcastle Utd in 1987. Back then United's interest had waned when they were quoted a transfer fee of £3m.

Ferguson and Edwards were discussing Beardsley when a phone call from Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby triggered the chain of events which led to Cantona's arrival and their subsequent dominance of the Premier League.

"Dion Dublin broke his leg against Palace," Ferguson said. "So we started scouring about trying to get someone in.

"Peter Beardsley wasn't really playing for Everton at the time so I went to Martin Edwards' office and said, 'Why don't we try to sign Peter Beardsley?'

"When I was in there the phone went, it was Bill Fotherby from Leeds asking if we'd sell Dennis Irwin. During the call I wrote Cantona's name on his pad. They said they would come back to us in half an hour.

"Half an hour to discuss a player like Cantona? Something like that should have taken five days. I knew there was something up and they came back to us and said they'd sell him for £1m.

"We signed him the next day."

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